Rapid tests use at Bahrain’s entry and exit points is still under study

The rapid test kits would be made available at authorised pharmacies across Bahrain

  

Use of the Covid-19 rapid antigen tests at Bahrain’s entry and exit points is still under study, it was announced.

Health Ministry Under-Secretary Dr Waleed Al Manea said yesterday that Bahrain International Airport (BIA) has been accredited by the Airport Councils International (ACI), a non-profit organisation representing airports in the world, for safety and best practices during Covid-19.

He was speaking during an online Press conference from the Crown Prince Centre for Training and Medical Research at the BDF Hospital.

Also present were National Taskforce for Combating Coronavirus monitoring committee head Lt Col Dr Manaf Al Qahtani and taskforce member and Salmaniya Medical Complex consultant of infectious and internal diseases Dr Jameela Al Salman.

The ministry on Tuesday announced that the rapid test kits would be made available at authorised pharmacies across Bahrain for BD4 each which would give the results in 15 minutes.

“However, the test that is officially adopted is the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) procedure,” said Dr Al Manea.

“The rapid test gives quick results and costs minimum and we can take prompt action by doubly checking positive results.

“But this is not final and not a replacement for the RT-PCR test and cannot be used at the ports.

“The ports are among the first places in the country where strict testing measures are in force, and we are assessing whether to permit the rapid tests at the ports.

“As of now it (rapid test) could be used as a secondary means of testing.”

Dr Al Manea praised the Bahrain Airport Company for implementing the airport management guidelines effectively which helped Bahrain achieve the recognition.

“We congratulate the BIA for obtaining a health accreditation certificate from the ACI in appreciation of its achievements in protecting the health of travellers and employees and ensuring their safety during the pandemic,” he said.

The GDN reported earlier that Bahrain did not close its only airport following the outbreak of the virus, yet strict measures were put in place to secure the facility as early as February, when the country registered only 33 positive cases of Covid-19 which all appeared to feature passengers travelling from Iran on indirect flights.

A medical protocol drafted by experts was put in place in June to be followed at BIA as the country prepared to resume its air traffic operations after Covid-19 restrictions.

The GDN reported last month that the Health Ministry launched rapid Covid-19 tests on a trial basis, focused on teachers, students, medical teams on the frontline and symptomatic patients.

“Around 20,000 tests were to be done, of which 60 per cent to 70pc have been completed locally which was reported to the manufacturers who were happy and a special protocol was adopted to use the rapid test kits.

“However, this is not a replacement to the PCR.

“The rapid test is not used to trace contacts, and if you test positive, call 444. If you test negative and still have symptoms, call 444.”

Dr Al Manea reassured parents about the readiness of the education sector as students resumed classes a week ago.

“In co-operation with the Education Ministry we are following up all precautionary measures to deal with the coronavirus in schools.

“Certain cases were detected in some schools and a decision was taken to withhold teaching for 10 days and these schools will not be permitted to open until certified safe by the Health Ministry’s public health directorate.”

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